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Pospisil: The NSAA needs to reconsider treatment of 'replacement games'
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COMMENTARY

Pospisil: The NSAA needs to reconsider treatment of 'replacement games'

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The more I think about it…

I appreciated the candidness from Dr. Cheryl Logan, the Omaha Public Schools superintendent, on Thursday night during a virtual meeting of the South Omaha Neighborhood Alliance. You may not agree with all she said, but you found out exactly what she thinks and could feel the stress and empathy in running the state’s largest school district during a pandemic.

It was better than her non-answer to my question at the OPS press conference Friday about whether she would have made the no-sports call if the original plan of the 3/2 Family Model — where kids would be in school five of every 10 days — would have stayed in place. Or her attempted spin on the response she gave The World-Herald for whether she stood by her Thursday night remarks.

I like the candid Logan better than the canned version.

OPS also should take off the “gag order” it has on coaches since the pandemic began in March. If members of the Omaha Education Association can speak at school board meetings, why can’t coaches to the media? Where is the OEA on this issue?

The more I think about it …

The seven Omaha Public Schools football teams could still salvage a bit of the season, provided that the coronavirus pandemic lets up so OPS can leave remote learning in mid-October and return to the classroom at least part time.

Yes, it’s a big if. Can’t we be a little optimistic these days?

No, the seven can’t be in the playoffs. But they could play as many as four games against one another if the NSAA will let teams use November — while the playoffs are underway — to make up lost games.

It wouldn’t be ideal that one of the seven would have to sit out each week — unless there are teams outside OPS needing games to get to their nine-game maximum. The NSAA seems receptive to breaking precedent and letting nonqualifying schools play games during playoff time.

OPS volleyball could have a very compact season, too. It could hold an OPS-only tournament Oct. 23 and 24 after starting practice Oct. 19 — the first day of the second quarter — to prepare for districts the following week.

OPS cross country, if the NSAA would let it, could have an OPS-only meet on the Friday of the state meet. Kids have been running on their own all summer and even before that. They would welcome some competition before a long winter.

That leaves softball, girls golf and boys tennis. There’s not much apparent relief, though female golfers could play on boys teams next spring. That’s allowable by the NSAA if a school doesn’t offer girls golf. There are four Thiele sisters from Wahoo Neumann who have taken advantage of that provision.

Again, all those ideas require COVID-19 cases getting to acceptable levels in Douglas County to reopen OPS to 50% in-person classes Oct. 19.

The more I think about it …

The NSAA needs to reconsider how it treats “replacement games,” in football especially. As it stands, any game added to the schedule doesn’t count toward the NSAA postseason point standings. Even games that are arranged with help from the NSAA before the start of the season.

Guess what? Within the 2020 NSAA football manual (awaiting board approval) is this contradiction: “In order for a game not on the original schedule to count toward a team’s point total, the game must be scheduled by the NSAA and member school prior to the first game of the season.”

As one coach told me Friday, why should he schedule replacement games if there is no reward and all the risk of injury.

With the OPS cancellation, 41 games involving the remaining 24 schools were wiped out, plus five games in Class B because of either OPS or the state of Colorado’s shift of football to next spring. Lincoln Southwest has five games left — and only one in its district. Seven schools currently have six games. Others have all nine.

Class A schools should be arguing for the games that fill in the holes on the OPS schedule to count toward the playoffs. Games arranged on the fly during the season, likely caused if there are multiple games postponed or canceled because of an outbreak, shouldn’t count. There I agree with the NSAA.

Class A’s district alignments also need adjusting. With Omaha Burke, Omaha Central and Omaha South out, Southwest and Papillion-La Vista South are the only ones left in District 3. As it stands, both are in the playoffs since the top two finishers in each district advance. Perhaps Papillion-La Vista should be moved in there.

The Monarchs already have both teams on the schedule and their shift would leave District 5 with an acceptable four teams.

The more I think about it …

I want to play football matchmaker for these “replacement games.”

Here are the open dates because of cancellations:

Aug. 27-28: Bellevue East, Bellevue West, Columbus, Lincoln Southeast, Norfolk, Scottsbluff

Sept. 3-4: Gretna, Kearney, Lincoln High, Omaha Westside

Sept. 10-11: Bellevue East, Elkhorn South, Fremont, Lincoln Northeast, Lincoln Southwest, Millard North, Ralston

Sept. 17-18: Bellevue East, Lincoln High, Scottsbluff, South Sioux City

Sept. 24-25: Fremont, Millard North, Norfolk, South Sioux City

Oct. 1-2: Bellevue West, Grand Island, Southwest, Norfolk, Papio South

Oct. 8-9: Bellevue West, Columbus, Lincoln Pius X, Papio South

Oct. 15-16: Fremont, Lincoln High, Millard North, Southwest, Westside

Oct. 22-23: Grand Island, Kearney, Lincoln North Star, Southwest, Millard South, Westside, Papio South

Here’s Matchmaker Stu’s suggested games, taking into account travel distance, competitive matchups and existing schedules:

Aug. 27-28: Bellevue East-Norfolk, Bellevue West-Lincoln Southeast, Columbus-Scottsbluff

Sept. 3-4: Gretna-Lincoln High, Kearney-Omaha Westside

Sept. 10-11: Bellevue East-Fremont, Elkhorn South-Millard North, Lincoln Northeast-Lincoln Southwest, Ralston open

Sept. 17-18: Bellevue East-South Sioux City, Lincoln High-Scottsbluff

Sept. 24-25: Fremont-Millard North, Norfolk-South Sioux City

Oct. 1-2: Bellevue West-Grand Island, Southwest-Norfolk, Papio South open

Oct. 8-9: Bellevue West-Lincoln Pius X, Columbus-Papio South

Oct. 15-16: Fremont-Lincoln High, Millard North-Southwest, Westside open

Oct. 22-23: Grand Island-Papio South, Southwest-Lincoln North Star, Westside-Millard South, Kearney open

The more I think about it …

If American Legion baseball lasts another 50 years, Max Anderson’s .776 average should still be standing as the state record. The Husker-bound shortstop from Wolfe Electric (Millard West) was 38 for 49 in 15 games.

For the past 50 years, we thought Jerry Gomez from Omaha Ryan batted .587 for the state standard. But re-examining his 1970 season with the Anthony’s Restaurant team showed that average was only for the regular season. Anthony’s played three games in the area tournament, and World-Herald box scores showed Gomez went 1 for 4 each game. That takes his average down to .533. Still stratospheric for the time. And for a long time.

It looks like Anthony’s played 23 games. Anderson played 15 games, sandwiched around a two-week midseason shutdown because of a positive COVID-19 test on the team. He could have gone hitless in 15 at-bats and still been ahead of Karson Hesser’s .600 (39 of 65) for Wahoo.

I doubt I could connect 38 of 49 times hitting fungoes.


All-Nebraska football teams through the years

Omaha World-Herald: Nebraska Prep Zone

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Reporter - High school sports

Stu is The World-Herald's lead writer for high school sports and for golf. Follow him on Twitter @stuOWH. Phone: 402-444-1041.

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